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Grocery News: Think Like a Farmer and Plan for Spring

Ri RedVegetable GardenNarr Cheese

Through the thicket of kale and mustard greens at the Wintertime Farmer’s Market is a glimmer of spring: it is time to select and sign up for your CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) plan.

Although the 2009 harvest is months away, local farmers are ready to accept your CSA dollars. Farmers use the money to get their new crops growing. In return, your family gets a weekly supply of fresh produce for about twenty weeks from late spring through the fall. It’s not just lettuce: many farms offer Narragansett Creamery cheeses, free range eggs, scallops, flowers, honey, and other locally-produced provisions. Some CSA shares offer participants the chance to visit and work on the farm. You might even get invited into the chicken coop to look for eggs in the henhouse.

What does it cost? For a family-size share, about $600 up front. Ouch. But that’s about $30 per week–which is probably less than you spend on produce for a week’s worth of meals. Ledge Ends Produce in East Greenwich (CSA pick-up also offered on the East Side of Providence) estimates a share’s value during the summer weeks to be $50. Smaller shares (for households that consume less than a big box’s worth of produce each week) are offered by some farms. And Wishing Stone Farm in Little Compton (CSA pick-up options in Barrington and Providence) offers a flexible plan, allowing you to choose whether you want to get jam and goat cheese or pound upon pound of tomatoes.

An even bigger issue than the cost and how much food a share provides is this: where will you have to go to pick up your share? Getting in a hot car to drive twenty miles in July is incredibly unappealing. It’s also completely counteractive to whatever good carbon-footprint karma you’ve earned by supporting local farms.

The Kidoinfo Resource Directory lists local CSA‘s and will guide you to the CSA that matches your family’s food, budget, and geographical profile. Have a favorite farmer? Do your kids have a favorite Rhode Island vegetable? Please share your insights by posting a review in the directory.

Check the Farm Fresh RI website to learn more about the Rhode Island farming community.

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  • cluck! did you hear about the (mean) neighbor in oak hill who called the police when he noticed a chicken coop being built? when the police came to check it out, they didn’t care at all about the chicken coop (no chickens in it yet) but condemned the family’s really cool tree house. i think there’s a whole society of secret city chicken keepers.

  • We’re all signed up for our CSA (this will be our 5th year!!) and I am so eagerly anticipating that first farm pick-up.

    We also just got our Murray McMurry catalog in the mail and are having a blast picking out our next flock of chicks, which we will start in May!

    Come on Spring!!!

  • My favorite farmer is Liz at Wishing Stone. Her lines at the market are too long but the line at CSA pick up is easy.